Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Careers Data chart

Doctors from ethnic minority backgrounds earn less than white colleagues

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 06 December 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k5089

Rapid Response:

Re: Doctors from ethnic minority backgrounds earn less than white colleagues; prima facie evidence of indirect discrimination

I note the concerns expressed by Dr Sinha Ahswi from New Delhi. Prima facie, the evidence suggests unlawful indirect racial discrimination based on the latest Supreme Court judgment in Essop & others v Home Office [1]. It might be helpful to note the following summary points[2]:

(1) None of the various definitions of indirect discrimination includes any express requirement for an explanation of the reasons why a particular PCP [provision, criterion or practice] puts one group at a particular disadvantage when compared with others.

(2) Direct discrimination expressly requires a causal link between the characteristic and the less favourable treatment; indirect discrimination only requires a causal link between the PCP and the particular disadvantage suffered by the group and the individual, because its aim is to achieve equality of results, not equality of treatment.

(3) The reasons why one group may find it harder to comply with the PCP than others are many and various, and need not be unlawful or under the control of the employer. Removing either the PCP or the “reason why” could resolve the problem (the sub-text being that the PCP is within the control of the employer).

(4) There is no requirement that the PCP place all members of the group at a disadvantage.

(5) It is commonplace for the disparate impact to be established on the basis of statistical evidence, which can show only correlation, not a “causal link” (or indeed the reason why).

(6) It is always open to an employer to justify a PCP that disadvantages a particular group.




Competing interests: No competing interests

13 December 2018
Jay Ilangaratne
East Yorkshire